SALT LAKE CITY -- Imagine going to the office, but instead of sitting, you stand and walk at your desk. And you do it comfortably for eight hours a day.
University of Utah researcher Dr. Liz Joy is testing a fully-functional, 6-foot wide desk called the "TrekDesk." The first-of-its kind office furniture eliminates the conventional chair and calls on users to embrace a whole new workplace lifestyle.
"We evolved as a species to be upright," Joy says. "Everything works better upright. We have less loading of the joints in our back [while] standing than we do sitting."
The new desk is designed to partner with a conventional treadmill, but in this case the office worker walks slowly--at the rate of only one mile per hour.
"I did find that, over time, you kind of develop a rhythm with it, and it's almost imperceptible movement," Joy says.Apparently, that graceful walking does wonders for the body. "We lubricate the joints in our lower extremities and our hips and knees and our ankles through movement," Joy says.
Again, this is not just standing. Users move, conceivably allowing them to do desk work all day without tiring.
"This way, you're pumping the blood back to your heart," Joy says. "And you don't have that sense of fatigue."
So, is it out with the old and in with the new? Joy and her colleagues in family and preventive medicine want to find out if this desk, in fact, will provide a return investment as a healthier, even more productive option for the office employee.
"We're in an era right now where we're trying to provide the best health for the lowest cost. It's the only way we're going to survive," she says.
Incidentally, you also burn off 100 calories for every hour or mile you walk at the desk. Joy believes the standing and walking rhythm could especially decrease the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes in those employees with metabolic syndromes.